Col. John Rison Fordyce

Photo from Arkansas History & Culture
 Engineer and Inventor

Born:November 7, 1869, Huntsville, Alabama
Died:June 9, 1929, Hot Springs, Arkansas
Buried:Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, AR


•  J.R. Fordyce moved from Huntsville to Hot Springs, AR when he was five. - Arkansas History & Culture

•  Received engineering degrees at Washington University in St. Louis and later also studying at Harvard University. - Arkansas History & Culture

•  Married Lillian Augusta Powe on April 28, 1898. They had four sons and lived in Little Rock and Hot Springs. - Arkansas History & Culture

•  "John Rison Fordyce (1869-1939) was an engineer, inventor, amateur historian and archaeologist, and candidate for U.S. Congress. He was a member of Dr. Frederick A. Cook's expedition to the Arctic in 1894 and in 1917 was commissioned Major of Engineers and put in charge of the construction of Camp Pike." - Kizzar

•  Some of his innovations and inventions:
      A press for making round bales of cotton
      Feeder for extracting hulls for seed cotton
      Device that drew cotton off the ginning saws by air suction rather than brushes
      Cotton Trolley mechanized handling of bales
      Invented a new way of firing the Lewis machine gun (from the shoulder.)
      His plans for movable shoe-repair facilities for the army
      Designed portable bread-mixing plant for the army
      Innovations for the bath house in Hot Springs. - Arkansas History & Culture

•  Military: "Fordyce was commissioned a major in the Engineers' Reserve Corps of the U.S. Army on April 18, 1917, and went on active duty on May 23. He was designated constructing engineer for the twelfth divisional cantonment to build Camp Pike (now part of Camp Joseph T. Robinson), an excellent early example of military campus design. Following this assignment, Fordyce was sent to construct the St. Louis clothing warehouses for the Quartermaster Corps in St. Louis in 1918-1919. At the end of World War I, Fordyce was promoted to colonel, U.S. Army Reserve." - Arkansas History & Culture

•  He "was a prominent engineer of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was superintendent and engineer of construction work at Camp Pike, Arkansas, during the war, while later he was promoted to the rank of major and brevetted lieutenant colonel, U.S.A. He was sent to St. Louis as chief engineer to the railroad administration for special service in connection with the Mississippi River and Warrior River Railroad Transportation." - Arkansas Ties

•  "Dr. Walter Jones and John R. Fordyce, the latter a former Madison Countian, were appointed by the President to serve on the DeSota Commission to determine the route of DeSoto in 1540 through Alabama." - Record

•  1894, he was a member of Dr. Frederick Cook's expedition to the Arctic. - Arkansas History & Culture

•  President of Thomas-Fordyce Manufacturing (cotton-gin machinery manufacturing). - Arkansas History & Culture

Related Links:

•  Arkansas History & Culture - Biography and Photo

•  Arkansas Ties - Bio for Samuel Wesley Fordyce, his father. A brief outline of Col. John Rison Fordyce is also covered.

•  DeSoto - Picture of the DeSoto Expedition commission (Originally found at

•  Kizzar - Photo of an old mill he built for "The Cabin" in Hot Springs, AR (with some biographical information). This is part of a series of photos presented by Wayne Kizziar on Flickr, but the pictures have since been removed from the site.

•  Record - A Dream Come True: The Story of Madison County and Incidentally of Alabama and the United States, Volume II, by James Record, 1978, page 228.

The Following Pages Link to this Page:
•  Record